Online Systems Engineering Master’s Offers Course and Scheduling Flexibility

Choose from 40 courses in University of Arizona’s master’s in systems engineering.

School: The University of Arizona

Program: Online Master of Science in Systems Engineering


“The online Master of Science in Systems Engineering is a flexible, individualized program, allowing students to select the elective courses they wish to take, as well as choose between three options – project, thesis, or coursework,” said Dr. Young Jun Son, Systems and Industrial Engineering Department Head at the University of Arizona. “The program is a good fit for students who hold an undergraduate degree in engineering, and aspire to advance into management careers within technological organizations. Students will gain tools for modeling and analysis for large complex systems, including probability and statistics, system theory, decision analysis, and simulation.”

Where it is: Tucson, Arizona

Format: Online

Degree you get: Master of Science in Systems Engineering

Prerequisites: Graduated from an accredited engineering bachelor’s program or related discipline

Size of the program: Approximately 27 students

Number of credit hours: 30 (9 courses for project option / 8 courses for thesis option); 33 (11 courses) for course option

Thesis: Optional thesis and project tracks

How long it will take: 1.5 – 2 years

When to apply: Spring deadline is June 1. Fall deadline is Dec. 1.

Tuition and Fees: $35,000 – $40,000

Minimum admission requirements:

  • Transcripts (GPA > 3.0)
  • Essay (statement of purpose)
  • Three letters of reference
  • Resume (no min. work experience)
  • International applicants: TOEFL (min. score: 79 internet-based; 550 paper-based) or IELTS (min. score: composite score 7; no other score under 6) or Pearson PTE (min. score: 60)

Not Required:

  • GRE

Who should take it?

  • Working engineering professionals
  • Engineers looking for management positions in tech-based companies

Things to consider about the program:

  • Thesis and project might need to be defended on campus
  • Scheduling group work with working professional

Claim to fame:

  • Tried and tested MSSE
  • Graduate certificate option
  • Large selection of electives

A Tried and Tested Systems Engineering Master’s Offers Variety

The University of Arizona’s online Master of Science in Systems Engineering (MSSE) comes from one of the oldest systems engineering departments in the USA.

“The department was founded on the premise that if complex systems are to do what is intended without unwanted side effects,” said Dr. Young Jun Son, Systems and Industrial Engineering Department Head at University of Arizona, “they must be designed not only with imagination and technical skill, but with rigorous attention to the design process and interactions among the system components, other systems and society.”

Dr. Young Jun Son, the Systems and Industrial Engineering Department’s head at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Young Jun Son, the Systems and Industrial Engineering Department Head at the University of Arizona.

The University of Arizona systems engineering department was founded in 1961, and students can expect a tried and tested MSSE curriculum. Students should also expect that this high standard remains true of the school’s online offering.

“Online students learn from the same faculty members and receive the same lectures as on-campus students,” said Son. “Our faculty members include world-renowned professors and managers with significant industry experience.”

“In some courses, students are even able to view [lectures] live,” added Son. “Innovation has always been a critical part of our academic philosophy. The curriculum is reviewed annually and updated as needed.”

Being able to view lectures during the student’s schedule makes MSSE friendly to working professionals.

What the Master of Science in Systems Engineering Curriculum Offers

Students are required to complete three core courses: linear systems theory, systems engineering processes, and either stochastic modeling or engineering statistics.

“The curriculum provides students with design viewpoints and methodologies that emphasize system integration,” said Son. “It provides subject matter and tools for modeling and analysis that are especially appropriate for large complex systems, such as probability and statistics, system theory, decision analysis, and simulation.”

After the students complete their core courses, they can choose from a list of about 40 other courses to complete their course component. With such a long list of classes, students can tailor their education to their careers to become specialists in a branch of systems engineering or to become a manager.

“Career opportunities for graduates of the program are outstanding,” said Son. “Over the years, graduates have found employment in the nation’s leading corporations, research institutes, and universities.”

Students will be able to choose between completing a capstone project or a thesis, or taking more courses to complete their master’s. Students who choose the course option will need to complete at least one 600-level course with a mark of “B” or higher.

On the other hand, students who choose the thesis, or more hands-on project option, will study research activities in various topic areas under the supervision of an advisor, explained Son. Some areas of research a student can choose from include:

  • Defense and aerospace
  • Space systems
  • Transportation and infrastructure
  • Water nexus
  • Quality and reliability
  • Modeling and simulation

Students who choose to complete a capstone project or thesis will need to defend their work in front of a committee of experts in the field. This defense can be done on-campus or via telecommunications. Scheduling a defense requires working with the school to find a date and time that fits with a busy schedule. However, the faculty are flexible and willing to accommodate the lifestyles of working professionals.

Working professionals taking the program part-time can complete the program in about a year and a half to two years. However, if this timeline to graduate doesn’t fit the student’s schedule, they might consider a graduate certificate.

“Upon completing an MS in systems engineering, students will acquire in-depth knowledge within a particular area of study and complementary knowledge from a related area in systems engineering,” said Son.

Systems Engineering Online Platform Offers Lots of Flexibility for Scheduling

“Students access coursework and submit assignments through the Desire2Learn, or D2L, online education platform,” explained Son. “Some courses have telepresence capability, which enables remote students to take the class at the same time as on-campus students. Remote students can also ask questions using their microphones. These courses will be recorded, so those who cannot attend live can access the class at a later time.”

“For courses without the telepresence capability,” added Son, “lectures will be recorded and available ten minutes after the lecture. When accessing lectures, students will be able to view a video of the lecturer and the contents synced.”

As a result, the student will be able to watch lectures, submit papers, reports and projects all through the D2L online education platform. D2L also offers 24/7 IT support in case students experience technical glitches.

Students can even have group discussions using the platform. You can expect a level of professionalism from peers in the program, given they likely have a few years of work experience, but they will all have busy schedules. As a result, time management and patience are important when scheduling these group discussions.

Overall, the flexibility the online program offers with respect to recorded lectures and coursework is an advantage. Students should expect to schedule at least 6 hours every week to do homework for each course they are taking that semester.

The University of Arizona has sponsored this post. It has no editorial input to this post – all opinions are mine. Shawn Wasserman

  • Required Courses
    • SIE 550 — Linear Systems Theory
    • SIE 554A — Systems Engineering Processes
    • Choose between:
      • SIE 520 — Stochastic Modeling
      • SIE 530 — Engineering Statistics
  • Optional courses
    • SIE 500A — Introduction to SIE Methods: Probability and Statistics
    • SIE 500B — Introduction to SIE Methods: Stochastic Processes
    • SIE 500C — Introduction to SIE Methods: Linear Programming
    • SIE 506 — Quality Engineering
    • SIE 508 — Reliability Engineering
    • SIE 514 — Law for Engineers and Scientists
    • SIE 515 — Technical Sales and Marketing
    • SIE 522 — Engineering Decision Making Under Uncertainty
    • SIE 525 — Queuing Theory
    • SIE 531 — Simulation Modeling and Analysis
    • SIE 536 — Experiment Design and Regression
    • SIE 540 — Survey of Optimization
    • SIE 544 — Linear Programming
    • SIE 545 — Fundamentals of Optimization
    • SIE 546 — Algorithms, Graphs, and Network
    • SIE 547 — Computational Issues in Optimization
    • SIE 552 — Space Systems Engineering
    • SIE 556 — Fundamentals of Guidance for Aerospace Systems
    • SIE 557 — Project Management
    • SIE 599 — Independent Study
    • SIE 561 — Traffic Modeling & Simulation
    • SIE 562 — Advanced Production Control
    • SIE 563 — Integrated Logistics and Distribution Systems
    • SIE 564 — Cost Estimation
    • SIE 565 — Supply Chain Management
    • SIE 567 — Financial Modeling for Innovation
    • SIE 583 — Computer Integrated Manufacturing Systems (CIM)
    • SIE 606 — Advanced Quality Engineering
    • SIE 620 — Selected Topics in Probability Modeling
    • SIE 631 — Distributed Multi-Paradigm Simulation Systems
    • SIE 636 — Advanced Experiment Design
    • SIE 640 – Large Scale Optimization
    • SIE 644 — Integer and Combinatorial Optimization
    • SIE 645 — Nonlinear Optimization
    • SIE 649 — Topics of Optimization
    • SIE 654 — Advance Concepts in Systems Engineering
    • SIE 678 — Transportation Systems
Written by

Shawn Wasserman

For over 10 years, Shawn Wasserman has informed, inspired and engaged the engineering community through online content. As a senior writer at WTWH media, he produces branded content to help engineers streamline their operations via new tools, technologies and software. While a senior editor at, Shawn wrote stories about CAE, simulation, PLM, CAD, IoT, AI and more. During his time as the blog manager at Ansys, Shawn produced content featuring stories, tips, tricks and interesting use cases for CAE technologies. Shawn holds a master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of Guelph and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.